George Roerich (1902-1960) was an outstanding scholar, linguist, historian, ethnographer, archeologist, art expert and polymath. Scientists internationally have taken note of his great contributions to the development of Mongolian studies. He stands side by side with the outstanding Eastern scholars of the world.
Geprge Roerich was born on 16 August 1902 in Okulovka, Novgorod Governorate, Russia. He spent his childhood in St. Petersburg. From an early age, he showed an unusual talent for languages—a talent that carried him through his education in the world’s best universities. Practically from infancy, he was aware of his calling. The East became his dearest wish, especially Central Asia. He showed great interest in the nomadic populations—the “engines” of history and masterminds of (He was born on August 16th, 1902 in Okulovka, Novgorod Governorate. G.Roerich spent his childhood in Saint Petersburg. From a young age he showed unusual talents for languages. George Roerich got elementary education in Saint Petersburg and continued his education in the best Universities of the world. From earliest infancy he knew about his further path and the East became the dearest wish, especially the Central Asia. He showed the great interest to the nomad’s world, these constant «engines» of history, masterminds of resettlement of peoples and tribe’s mixing.)
In 1923, George Roerich embarked on the Central Asian Expedition led by his father Nikolai. His knowledge of Tibetan, Sanskrit and other ancient Eastern languages–especially Mongolian–allowed him insight into the art and psyche of the people he studied. His knowledge of Tibetan, Sanskrit and other ancient Eastern languages–especially Mongolian–allowed him insight into the art and psyche of the people he studied. Yuri became the world’s only Tibetan dialects specialist. Upon the conclusion of the expedition, G.Roerich and his family founded Urusvati, the Himalayan research institute in India. George himself became president.
In 1957, George Roerich returned to his motherland. He began work at the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow. There, through great effort, he created the Roerich School for Indologists and Tibetologists. It was a school with its own unique style of research. Among the students was a post-graduate scholar by the name of Shagdaryn Bira. Bira’s was G. Roerich’s closest student. Years later, Shagdaryn Bira wrote in his memoirs, “We fell in love from the first day.”
George Roerich always referred to Mongolia and Mongolians with the greatest respect. He strove to share his knowledge with the younger generation.
In a letter from 1958, he wrote: “I have returned from Mongolia. . . . I was very well-received. The country has developed and is embarked on a new path of her own.”